Ubisoft’s latest addition to the Tom Clancy’s catalogue, Rainbow Six Extraction, is a competent and fun first-person cooperative shooter, but isn’t quite more than the sum of its parts. Extraction sees returning Rainbow Six Siege Operators engaged in a fight against an invading alien parasite. The entire game is actually an extrapolation on a limited time Siege game mode from 2018 called Outbreak, and while Extraction does a good job filling out the story and adapting Siege‘s gameplay, it ultimately still feels like an odd direction to take the series. The individual elements of Rainbow Six Extraction are well polished, and while the core gameplay loop has some fascinating systems, it loses a lot of satisfaction in its repetitiveness.
After the Chimera Parasite was initially contained following the Outbreak game mode, it has resurfaced across the United States in New York City, San Francisco, rural Alaska, and its ground zero location in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Team Rainbow has established a new branch to deal with the outbreak known as REACT – Rainbow Exogenous Analysis & Containment Team. Players organize into teams of up to three and participate in REACT’s incursions into various Containment Zones, of which there are three in each region. Standard incursions consist of three areas, each with a different objective, and players have the opportunity to extract at their discretion, regardless of whether or not all objectives have been completed.
Rainbow Six Extraction‘s biggest boon is its inheritance of Siege‘s exceptional gunplay and strategy. Even though AI controlled aliens (known as Archæans) are on the opposing side, accuracy, coordination, and a certain amount of stealth are paramount to success. A host of new REACT Tech gadgets broaden the load out possibilities, and each Operator’s unique ability has been tweaked to serve Extraction‘s needs. The game recognizes its own more casual approach compared to Siege and supplies the player with visual cues alongside the expected audio ones. Combining the sneaking and short time to kill with a UV flashlight that highlights the Archæans bioluminescence through destructible walls, there’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction to be found in completing an objective without alerting any of Rainbow Six Extraction‘s Symbiote-like parasites.
Though Extraction heavily features methodical, precise gameplay where headshots reign, it frequently leans into its cooperative shooter side, subjecting players to an inundation of Archæans while trying to complete incursions. It can be quite fun in the moment when things begin to go south, but failing to come out on top has consequences. Losing an Operator in the field gives them an MIA designation, and that Operator can’t be used until they’ve been rescued from the Containment Zone they were lost in. The MIA system introduces an interesting gameplay mechanic, where players have to juggle REACT’s entire roster, letting injured Operators recover health while others are used.
Unfortunately, this same system leads directly to Rainbow Six Extraction‘s co-op multiplayer becoming repetitive. Players may be able to advance a few Operators to higher levels, but if they’re lost in a Containment Zone, or unavailable due to injury, others will have to be leveled through incursions that have already been played multiple times. While the game attempts to bring variety with a large pool of possible objectives and randomized enemy placements, Extraction suffers from not having the complicated meta-game of its predecessor. There is still plenty of utility for each Operator’s ability, but setting up defenses is hardly ever more complicated than trying to funnel the Archæans into a specific kill box so that they can be easily dispatched while waiting for an objective timer to finish.
Rainbow Six Extraction gameplay can be immensely satisfying, but sneaking through familiar areas, shooting aliens in the head through walls, and completing the same objectives only in different spots becomes tiring. Extraction dangles plenty of rewards in front of the player – lore tidbits, new gadgets, locked Operators, the next batch of Containment Zones, and cosmetics – but the game ultimately feels largely directionless in its cyclical gameplay.
Ubisoft seems plainly aware of the game it has developed, which works to Extraction‘s benefit. The lower price point of $40 is easier to stomach for the game’s repetitive nature, and those who can get hooked on its gameplay loop could sink a lot of hours into it. Rainbow Six Extraction’s Buddy Pass system is a great way for players to dip their toes into the co-op experience with friends before buying, and its day one presence on Game Pass will let plenty of players try it out without an additional entry fee. For how accessible the game is, there’s a surprising amount of content. Not only will the incursions, limited time events, and endgame content provide a satisfactory amount of gameplay, there’s also plenty of cosmetics that can be unlocked fairly easily, and enough load out variation to satisfy those who like to experiment.
Along the same lines, Rainbow Six Extraction is noticeably polished with exceptionally few bugs. There’s certainly some grievances that can be taken with the already apparent prevalence of micro-transactions (though they are nicely sequestered in their own menu), but it’s nice to play a game that works seamlessly, at least on a PlayStation 5, where the DualSense features are also put to good use. The production value is admirable, and the pre-rendered cutscenes in particular are gorgeous. While playing, Rainbow Six Extraction looks a bit dated, operating with Siege‘s aging engine, but it makes up for lack of detail in its overall atmosphere. Without the competitive balance requirements that have washed out a lot of Siege‘s personality over the years, Extraction has utilized contrasting lighting and its ominous alien structures to create an enthralling game world.
Extraction‘s story is interesting enough, and it meshes well with the gameplay loop. The characters at the forefront – Ash, Mira, and Thermite – are upfront about the Chimera Parasite still being largely a mystery, and the incursions are framed in such a way to provide a believable illusion of the player’s efforts contributing to research and containment. Bits of intel are picked up along the way, elaborate codex pages are unlocked for perusal, and cutscenes advance a narrative framework as more areas become playable. Extraction is fun, and that’s what is most important, but it frequently feels derivative of Siege. That’s not always bad, but it amounts to an experience that is deliberately designed to ensnare players into its recursive gameplay. Rainbow Six Extraction‘s individual parts make for a very solid foundation, but the interesting gameplay mechanics get lost in a repetitive mission structure.
Rainbow Six Extraction releases January 20, 2022 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Stadia, and Luna. Screen Rant was provided a digital PS5 download code for the purpose of this review.